This early Spielberg directed TV movie features a TV advertising exec (Darren McGavin) move into a country farm with his hippy drippy New Age wife (Sandy Dennis). But strange things start to occur shortly afterwards.
I first saw this when it aired on UK television in the early 80’s. It scared the pants off me. Is it still scary to a cynical old man of 44?
The simple answer is YES! It still packs a punch and the tone and direction are flawless.
Theres a creeping, building sense of malevolence that runs through the whole movie that is palpable and builds to a genuinely terrifying ending.
I love the fact that Spielberg gently sends up the fashionable pop-psychology and oh so self aware mysticism that was so hip in the 70’s.
There are plenty of scares to be had- the sound of a child crying at night, the demonic jam-jars (yes, really) that are discovered in the barn, the presence of something genuinely malevolent in the house that changes not only the young son but Mrs ‘Move To The Country’ herself as in one scene we see her beat her son for disobeying her orders.
This is wayyy too unsettling for what should have been a pretty bland and pedestrian romp made for network television. Spielberg was obviously on a roll when he directed this as he had just made the masterpiece Duel.
I hope whatever limbo this title is in disappears so that we get a great Blu ray release sometime soon.
Ahh, the 3D craze of the early 80’s. Some films were great and used the gimmick really well (take a bow, Friday the 13th 3D) whilst others were films just a flat and mediocre in 3D as they would have been in 2D. This film belongs in the latter category.
I only watched this as I saw the VHS art on a friend’s Instagram page and it looked luridly interesting. Oh, and if you’re on Instagram add us- www.instagram.com/meathookcinema
A truckload of killer dogs trained by the army to fight like a whole battalion of men runs off the road and crashes releasing it’s deadly cargo in a small American town- the kind of town that has mud wrestling in the local bars. The scientist who trained the dogs arrives to try to make sure the dogs don’t kill too many people. Or is he secretly interested in saving his work?
There are no spliffs being passed to the audience, no eyeballs being popped out or snakes in sense shattering 3D to look forward to here. In fact I watched this in less than stunning 2D and the film feels more like an early 80’s TV movie like The Savage Bees (but not as good) than like a proper film made for the cinema. In fact this feels like it was only distributed as a film as it was shot in 3D and the gimmick wouldn’t have worked if it was shown on TV’s rather than on a cinema screen.
In fact the guy who consulted on the 3D for this film also worked on Jaws 3D. If theres any bigger warning against seeing this film then that’s it.
The other half of a double-bill in UK cinemas with the other film being the far better The Incredible Melting Man. This was actually made for television in America.
Killer bees have flown into America and are claiming their first casualties disturbingly close to New Orleans when their Mardi Gras is due to kick off. A bee expert (of course) and a guy who isn’t quite a coroner yet (so he isn’t taken seriously) are on the case but come up against obstacles in the form of sniffy officials who don’t want to see Mardi Gras cancelled- at any cost (hints of Murray Hamilton’s character in Jaws here).
We learn that the bees don’t like noise and the colours black and red. The first human victim is a coloured girl in a red dress blowing a toy horn. Not her lucky day.
The finale involves Ms Bee Expert being nudged into a sports stadium in her red Beetle which the bees have covered as she was earlier using the horn near them (doh!). The temperature of the Super Dome is then lowered as the bees die when temperatures reach below 35 Degrees Fahrenheit. This sequence is very unexpected and works well with tension being ramped up as the temperatures come down (we see this on huge displays which show the actual countdown).
This is an above average TV movie which received a video release in some territories. There aren’t enough action sequences and some of the more talky bits are quite pedestrian. But when it gets going its quite exciting. Because I saw it on TV when I was a small child and loved it then it will always hold a special place in my little black heart.
Look out for the scene in which someone in fancy dress tries to take on the bees with a sword. Yes, a sword!
Small town vigilantes wrongly accuse a mentally challenged man of attacking and killing a little girl. It turns out he didn’t attack her but saved her from a neighbour’s vicious dog. The vigilantes find this out just after killing the innocent man who is disguised as a scarecrow. Oops. When the local courts offer no justice, the vigilantes start getting bumped off one by one.
This is actually a TV movie and is a cracker. It built up a cult following amongst horror fans and is one of the best horror TV movies ever made.
The film feels authentic and depicts the bloodthirsty lynchmob really well. We see during the course of the film that these people are the true simpletons of the piece. We also see that a group of people who are desperate for violence and maybe more don’t need any justification for it. Its also interesting that the members of the lynch mob are all depicted as being fine upstanding members of the community (the postman, mechanic, farmer etc) whilst being completely hellbent on inflicting their lawless brand of ‘justice’ on someone whos just a bit different.
This film has a great cast that is like a whos who for horror fans. As well as Larry Drake from Tales From The Crypt, Charles Durning who amongst other things was in When a Stranger Calls, John Houseman from the original Hills Have Eyes and Ed Call who played Glen’s (Johnny Depp) father in A Nightmare on Elm Street.
The tension in certain scenes is built up to nailbiting levels and the direction and screenplay are top notch. This is the perfect example of a TV movie that was so great that it transcended its medium and was given a VHS and DVD release. And deservedly so. This is brilliant.
A man (called David Mann) is travelling to meet an appiontment but is stalked, driven insane (pun not intended) and almost killed by a driver in a huge battered old truck.
This movie is amazing. Firstly, it was directed by Steven Spielberg for TV which makes the fruits of his labour even more staggering. So much innovation, imagination and art was poured into this project whereas many directors of TV movies would have treated them as a low art form and a way of making an easy quick buck.
This is like Jaws on the road. Instead of a shark persuing the hapless prey theres a truck. The amount of ingenuity that Spielberg used to film in the sea years later he here uses when filming speeding vehicles on desert highways. The cinematography is flawless and could serve as a tourist film for California if the events depicted weren’t so frightening.
The way that I read the film was that the truck is a test to Mann’s manhood. Up until the encounter with the truck Mann hears on the radio a discussion regarding modern gender roles and how men in general are now emasculated and subserviant to women. One caller says that his trick when dealing with his wife is to ‘play meek’. There is also a phone call with Mann to his wife in which he apologises as the previous night they had been a party at which a man had been a bit too ‘hands on’ with her. Mann had done nothing and this had caused his wife to argue with him and question his masculinity. There is also a conversation with a garage owner. ‘You’re the boss!’ says the garage owner to whch Mann replies ‘Not in my house I’m not!’
The truck in this film is a test to this masculinity. The modern man (or Mann) who has had his baser instincts of being a hunter/gatherer eroded by the modern world is going to be pushed to the limit. Thus certain events happen during the film- the truck won’t let Mann pass when its travelling too slow. The one time he motions for Mann to pass it is to make him run into oncoming traffic in the other lane. There are also moments in the film where Mann thinks hes gotten rid of the truck only to find it hiding in wait further on in his journey. The truck driver wants to control, manipulate and wear Mann down. Will Mann play meek and accept this or fight back?
There is an amazing sequence in which Mann retires to a roadside cafe as a respite to the onslaught from the truck. When he comes back out from the bathroom hes just used he sees to his horror that the murderous truck is parked in front of the cafe. The driver must be in the cafeteria as Mann and so his paranoia goes off the scale! This sequence is amazing- are the other patrons really looking around at Mann or is he just imagining it? Can he eliminate the patrons and single out the truck driver who is trying to kill him? This is one of the tense, nervous and nerve wrecking sequences I’ve ever seen in a film.
The film even feels like a live action horror version of a Roadrunner cartoon during one scene. When the truck starts pushing Mann’s car into a level crossing which is closed and with a train travelling through it the sheer surreality of the whole situation can be seen. This scene was added to the TV movie to make it into a full length film to be released in cinemas in Europe.
The ending of the film involves Mann defeating his adversary but by sacrificing his own car. Mann jams his briefcase full of paperwork onto the cars accelerator so that it keeps on running. The truck crashes into the car but on doing so both run off the edge of a cliff. The dinosaur roar that is heard when the truck is falling and crashing into the rocks down below was later used by Spielberg in Jaws to accompany the death of the shark.
Spielberg seems to be implying that when man (Mann) strips away all of the trappings of modern life (symbolised by his car, his briefcase that is indicative of his job) then he possesses what man has always possessed- ingeuinity, intelligence and a strong survival instinct. No amount of watering down of these qualities by modern societal forces can erode this.
This film is amazing as are so many of Spielberg’s TV movies- and indeed his movies made for the cinema. This has been released on Blu ray thankfully. Now if only Steven would oversee the release of the brilliant Something Evil then I would be truly happy.
I remember loving this as a kid and renting it out from my local video store on numerous occasions.
Michael Beck (yes, Swan from The Warriors and accomplice to Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu) is cryogenically frozen. His freezer pod at the plant that holds his body malfunctions and he starts to thaw. His mother is overjoyed. He can reenter her life and take over the mantle of big bossman in the high powered family corporation.
It quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong with him- he walks around with what looks like three layers of pan-stick on his face, the family dog barks at him for no reason (he eventually kills the mutt) and he starts to make unscrupulous decisions in his job. Its almost as if he doesn’t have a soul…
I just rewatched this the other day and its, well, a bit lifeless (excuse the pun). There was plenty of scope to make some brilliant observations about businessmen not having a soul anyway and linking this to Reagan 80’s America. These possibilities were squandered.
This was directed by Wes Craven for TV in 1985. This could have been directed by anyone. Craven was taking any old job at this time as he was skint- hence he directed Swamp Thing (a good movie) and The Hills Have Eyes 2 (any movie that features a dog having a flashback is devoid of criticism as you already know ITS BULLSHIT).
I don’t know if this did well in the ratings when it was shown in 1985. And I don’t really care. I hope Wes was paid well.
I first learnt of this film when I saw the poster for a double bill it was playing as a part of outside my local cinema back in the day.
I then saw it as a kid when it was on television. It was the last thing I watched before going to bed and it scared the crap out of me.
Was it still scary when I watched it more than thirty years later? Well, no but its still a decent enough movie.
My favourite scene- the guy who tries to fend off the killer bees by using a sword. Of all things.
Camp 70’s B movie (or should that be bee movie) fun.
3 out of 5